Get Germanized

I recently discovered a very interesting and useful YouTube channel called “Get Germanized”.

It is hosted by a young German lad with bags of enthusiasm who is clearly very keen to help us foreigners living in Germany. The channel has a great deal of content covering a wide range of interesting topics including things such as job hunting, his Grandfather’s World War II stories and typical German stereotypes. He even has some basic German language lessons which are pretty good for total beginners:

Please go take a look at his channel and give him a few thumbs up or nice comments as he really is trying to help make our lives here easier.

German Property Searches

In response to a growing number of messages I am receiving asking about how to go about finding properties in the area, I can recommend the following web search engines:

Unfortunately, they are in German but it is easy enough to find your way around them using a dictionary, or for those who really cannot be bothered, by running them through an online translator such as the one available on Google Chrome.

I am working on doing a full article which will include common terminology and other bits of advice on finding property. I will publish that as soon as I can.

English Speaking Doctors, Dentists And Opticians

All of us who choose to live in Germany find one of the most daunting aspects is what to do when medical problems occur. Indeed, one of the most common questions I am asked is how to go about finding an English-speaking doctor, dentist or optician. Whilst I plan on doing a full article on this subject in the near future, I just want to share my experiences gained over the couple of years or so that I have spent here. Continue reading

Healthcare In Germany

In Britain, we all complain about the National Health Service (NHS), but having myself lived in several countries that do not have one, I think it is pretty darn good.

Of course, Germany is also highly regarded for its health care, but I must admit I do find it considerably more complicated to navigate than the British system. For example, when you start working in Germany, you must actually choose a provider as the government effectively contracts it out. And if you earn above a certain salary, you can opt to go private and your and your employer’s contributions get fed into that. Things get even more complicated if you are unemployed, self employed or a student.

Therefore, I was pleased to find a page on the “How To Germany” website which gives a good overview of how it is all structured and some of the rules and regulations which govern it all. Click here to go directly to that page.

Move Over Venice

When I bought my house in Zell, it was always in the back of my mind that the proximity to the river means that flooding is a distinct possibility. The house was advertised as being in a “high water free” location, and indeed it does sit a bit above the surrounding houses that I know do flood from time to time.

Anyway, I was scouting the internet for old pictures and I was not sure whether to laugh or cry when I found a picture of my street with water half way up the front doors, and my house was in the centre of the picture! The picture was taken in the flood of 1993, which was regarded as the “hundred year flood”. So I figured that – statistically at least – my place should be reasonably safe for a few years to come!

The prospect of being flooded out is to a total land lubber like me freaky to say the least. But the locals don’t seem to share my concerns – water off the proverbial duck’s back to them, if you’ll pardon the pun. They are obviously used to the river bursting its banks, and they know when and how to prepare for it, to minimize the risk, to limit the damage and how to clear up quickly afterwards. This is beautifully illustrated in this German video:

I was astounded when I saw this. The river roars past, quickly claiming large swathes of the adjacent land, flooding the cellars and ground floors of premises located in its way, but with the efficiency the Germans are noted for, those premises are swiftly cleared and everyone resorts to living upstairs and getting around by rowing boats. What Impressed me most was the community spirit and the camaraderie – watch out for the two ladies in the rowing boat before and after they have had a drink!

So watch out for future videos of the Mosel “Hochwasser” – you might see me paddling away from my lounge window on my way to the pub!

German State Pensions

I was surfing the web earlier when I stumbled upon the German Pensions (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) website and was pleased to see it contains some useful downloadable brochures in English and six other languages on State pensions for EU and non-EU citizens.

Of course, for those Brits amongst us everything in that respect is up in the air now, but at least it gives an overview as to how things work at the moment, and we can get an idea of what the rules might be if the UK exits the EU lock, stock and two smoking barrels.

The website can be found here and the downloadable brochures here.

Post Brexit Fallout

So, the UK has – rightly or wrongly – voted to leave the European Union and now the dust is starting to settle a bit it is looking highly probable that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and her cabinet will honour that vote and formally instigate the exit.

I myself had hoped the vote would go the other way, but equally I felt the EU needed a bit f a kick up the backside in a few areas. However, we are where we are and it now remains to be seen what the UK and the EU manage to agree on. My initial concerns centred around the right of EU citizens to live and work in other EU states, but I suppose at the end of the day other non-EU nationals manage to come and settle in Germany so it s by the end of the world I suppose.

If you are a UK national living in Germany, what are your thoughts and concerns on it all? And what about non-EU nationals living in Germany – is it difficult to actually come here and settle? Any comments would be welcome, and I moderate them before they are published so please just mention if you don’t want me to put your comment public.

German Accounts And Taxes

Moving to a new country is always daunting, but dealing with taxation probably sits at the top of the “Oh My God” list for most of us expats, especially given that German taxation is notoriously complex even for German speakers. Rightly or wrongly, I relied on my employer to get it right although my payslips always used to mystify me given that they were a full A4 sheet of seemingly endless deductions.

However, in my case, matters were further complicated by the fact that I had an investment property in Berlin and a small business. All this meant doing income tax and VAT returns which have to be done electronically in German. To attempt to do it myself would have been a recipe for disaster, so I decided to employ a professional. Continue reading

Adult Ice Cream

Ice cream as we all know comes in a dazzling array of flavours ranging from the traditional through the exotic to the downright weird. However, on a trip to Cochem I tried ice cream – made from local wine.

Initially I expected it to be just wine flavoured ice cream, but the first lick proved it indeed was made from the real thing and four scoops later I honestly could feel the effects! Maybe that was just a placebo effect, as surely ice cream cannot be alcoholic?

Anyway, all I can say is if you have a sweet tooth and love refreshing ice cream as opposed to the rich creamy varieties, get yourself over to Cochem and give it a try. Unfortunately I did not get the name of the particular parlour where I had it, but it was right in the historic centre and I saw other places selling it. You can probably get it in other towns along the river too, although I have struggled to find it in Zell.

German Men Sit Down To Pee

I mentioned in a previous blog posting a Kindle book I was reading and I promised to give an update on it once I had finished reading it so here we go…

The book is “German Men Sit Down To Pee And Other Insights Into German Culture” and as you will guess from that, it is a jovial look at the Germans and their unique ways. It is written by James Cave, a well travelled Irishman with experience of German life, and Niklas Frank, a German who is experienced in dealing with bewildered expats.

  Continue reading